Authors: Cathy Marie Hake
Tags: #ebook, #book
Cathy Marie Hake
FROM BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS
That Certain Spark
Copyright © 2007
Cathy Marie Hake
Cover design by Jennifer Parker
Cover photograph scene courtesy of Pipeline Supply, Inc., Hopkins, Minnesota
Cover photography: Linda’s Photography, Linda Motzko
Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hake, Cathy Marie.
Fancy Pants / Cathy Marie Hake.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7642-0317-6 (pbk.)
ISBN-10: 0-7642-0317-7 (pbk.)
1. British—Texas—Fiction. 2. Ranchers—Texas—Fiction. I. Title.
To Deb Boone,
a cherished friend whose love, encouragement, and
insights make all the difference.
The Bible tells us to seek wise counsel—
and more times than I can count,
your words have been filled with God’s truth.
Of the innumerable blessings our Heavenly Father
has bestowed upon me, I count
you among the dearest.
CATHY MARIE HAKE is a nurse who specializes in teaching Lamaze, breastfeeding, and baby care. She loves reading, scrapbooking, and writing, and is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books. Cathy makes her home in Anaheim, California, with her husband, daughter, and son.
New York, 1890
Rexall Hume planted his hands on the desk and leaned forward, his scowl rivaling a gargoyle’s. “You’ve tested my patience far too long, Lady Hathwell. A year and a day—that’s how long I’ve waited.”
Sydney Hathwell met his gaze unflinchingly. “Surely you’re not intimating my father was unworthy of a proper period of mourning.”
“Which ended ten days ago.” Hume paced across the intricate carpeting to the far side of the study and wheeled back around. Eyes narrowed, he studied her as if encountering her for the first time.
Sydney stood in silence and returned his gaze with equal frankness. In the week since she’d arrived, they’d shared only three stilted meals. He’d left orders for the staff to assist Sydney and her aunt whenever they required, then spent the balance of his time away from the residence. No small wonder he now stared at her as if she were a stranger.
What did they know of each other? Nothing. Over the past year, he’d not bothered to correspond with her. Oh, he’d sent condolences in the form of a telegram. She’d responded, as was proper, with a small card of acknowledgment. Silence then yawned across the Atlantic. She couldn’t break it; a woman didn’t pursue a man. It simply was not done.
A full year of no contact—then he’d telegraphed for her to come. She’d been more than a little surprised, but she understood she was obliged to allow him to court her. Sydney struggled to find anything more to write than the particulars regarding her arrival. She’d never seen his picture, heard his voice, or even read a single word written by his hand—yet she’d come to fulfill her obligation. Now that she’d traversed a wide ocean and been beneath his roof, he’d made no attempt to woo her. None whatsoever. How could he possibly think they’d pledge their hearts and lives to each other tomorrow?
Hume stalked toward her, a stiff smile plastered across his face. His hands were every bit as cold as hers when he grasped them. “You don’t need to be upset, Cindy dear.”
Cindy! He expects me to marry him, and he doesn’t even know my
“There, there. I can see you’re . . . distraught.” He squeezed her hands. “Things come up at inconvenient times. It’s an unfortunate fact in business. I had hoped you’d come along and consider this a wedding trip.”
Maybe I’ve been wrong. Father respected and appreciated Mama’s opinion
. “Are you requesting that I assist in negotiations?”
“You?” A crack of laughter erupted from him. “Of course not. We can stop by the church on the way to the train station tomorrow. Since you don’t know anyone here and you are just coming out of mourning, a quiet wedding will do. Then, while I tend to business in Boston and Philadelphia, you can visit museums and the like. Wouldn’t you enjoy that?”
She pulled free from his grasp. “Mr. Hume, as I said earlier, I fear we do not suit.”
He heaved a longsuffering sigh. “Perhaps this business trip is best done away with.”
Is he putting me above his business?
“Once I return, we’ll marry. That will allow you sufficient time to settle in and see to whatever little matters you women consider to be so vital.” He looked inordinately pleased with himself.
Sydney couldn’t help thinking Hume still resembled a gargoyle— cold and stonehearted. “Mr. Hume, I’m so very sorry—”
“No, no.” He held up his hand. “No need to thank me, Cindy dear.”
The butler appeared in the open doorway. He cleared his throat. “Excuse me, sir. Mr. Borland is here.”
“Ah, yes.” Hume sketched a perfunctory bow in her direction. “You’ll excuse me. I must see to this.”
Dismissed as though she were a cranky child in wont of a nap, Sydney managed a chilly nod and headed upstairs. She’d tried twice now to tell Mr. Hume that she couldn’t marry him. He’d ignored her concerns on both occasions and brushed her aside so he could conduct further business. She’d tried to be honorable; now she’d do what she must.
Five nights later a light, pattering knock barely gave warning before Serena Hathwell let herself in. Sydney whirled around. “Aunt Serena! What are you doing up at this hour?”
Serena stared at the hatboxes, trunk, and portmanteau scattered across the bedchamber. “That telegram you got yesterday! Just as your father swept your mother off her feet, Hume’s coming to claim you! How very romantic! I never imagined he’d be the type to ask you to elope—but you know what they say. Still waters run deep.”
“Romantic and Hume scarcely belong in the same breath. I cannot marry him.” Sydney took what should have been her wedding gown from the ornately carved wardrobe and shoved it into her steamer trunk.
“You’re acting in haste.” Aunt Serena pulled the yards of satin and lace from the trunk.
“I tried. Marriage between us simply will not work.”
Censure puckered Serena’s features. “Even if you feel no obligation to Mr. Hume, you made a promise. A deathbed promise. Your father—God rest his soul—must be spinning in his grave.”
“I promised Father I’d come to America and meet Mr. Hume. I didn’t vow I’d marry him. Reflect for a moment, and you’ll know I’m right.”
Aunt Serena’s eyes widened. “Oh my. That’s right.”
A small measure of hope sparked in Sydney’s heart. Her aunt might help her. “Father loved Mama. He wouldn’t want me to marry someone for whom I hold no affection.”
“These things work out. Hume has every right to believe you’ll wed him after honoring your mourning period.”
“It makes no sense that I’d cross an ocean to wind up with the same aloof, unfeeling marriage others proposed back in England. I came seeking what Mama and Father had, and I won’t settle for anything less.”
Sliding a hanger back into the gown, Serena tutted. “Their marriage was unique. The time’s come for you to put away childish dreams and settle down.”
“Since we’ve been in America, Hume’s never once shown the slightest interest in me. I didn’t expect him to quote sonnets or attend to my every whim, but you must admit his neglect has been legendary.”
“He’s a busy man. You wouldn’t want to marry a sluggard.”